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Study Finds Cancer Mortality Rate Disparity Based on Hospital Ratings

A new paper in the JNCI Cancer Spectrum, published by Oxford University Press, finds that the mortality rates for complex cancer procedures differ greatly between one-star hospitals (10.4%) and five-star hospitals (6.4%).

Researchers examined the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ “Star Rating” system, which serves as a guide for patients to compare the quality of each hospital’s care (one-star = lowest to five-star= highest). Researchers found that the ratings correlate with quality and safety across many patient care scenarios, including the risk of mortality after complex cancer surgery.

A total of 105,823 patients underwent complex cancer procedures at 3,146 hospitals between 2013 and 2016. Eligible patients were over 65 years old with a diagnosis of cancer of the lung, colon, stomach, esophagus, or pancreas. This group captures an estimated 80% of all high-risk cancer surgeries. The mortality rating over a 90-day period correlated with the star system, with the greatest difference observed between the 1-star (10.4%) and 5-star (6.4%) hospitals. However, these rates varied by surgery type.

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